5 Ways to Survive the Rainy Season in Tokyo

Take on Tsuyu and Win

By The Savvy Team
June 21, 2016

The dreaded rainy season is upon us, bringing with it unpredictable downpours, moldy futons, steamy train cars and Albert Einstein-inspired hair. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to make it through to summer with a little preparation and a whole lotta’ waterproofing.

Check out Savvy’s five ways for surviving "tsuyu" and let us know if you have any tips of your own in the comments.

Little girl splashing in the rain.

1. Invest in a pair of rain boots

Ah, the rainy season in Japan; hundreds of shoes lost in the daily deluge that sees the streets turn into the flood scene from every recent disaster movie, coupled with the constant scent of Eau de Damp Footwear. We’ve seen Birkenstocks, leather heels and even Crocs give up before we’ve managed to wade to the office. It’s time to invest in a decent pair of quality rain boots that will save you time and avoid the unnecessary loss of half of your shoe collection.

Most, if not all, Japanese shoe stores will start selling a range of water-resistant rubber boots from May with the cheapest starting around ¥3,000 all the way up to ¥75,000 (yikes!) for a branded pair like Hunters. It’s a good idea to shop around, and you might find a better deal online at Rakuten or Amazon.co.jp.

These foldable rubber boots designed for the fashion-conscious rice farmer have been doing the internet rounds for a while. Ok, they’re not cheap but this is an investment, right?

Rainy hair and make up

2. Find the right hair and makeup products

Wearing make-up this June? Your face will—literally—begin to melt, transforming a slick of eyeliner into a cosplay of Beetlejuice. Hair, too, likes to frizz in the manner of an electrocuted poodle. Never mind though, as this actually helps to avert people’s eyes from the unavoidable sweat patches that will form in places you didn’t even think they could.

Luckily, Japanese drugstores, as well as lifestyle shops like Loft and Tokyu Hands, are stocked full of beat-the-heat inventions like wipes, face mists, sweat pads, waterproof mascara and lightweight hair serums. There are tons of products out there; start with the holy trinity of deodorant sheets (also called cleansing or refresh sheets), blotting papers for skin (sometimes called beauty papers) and a cooling spray.

Bioré’s Sara Sara Powder Sheets are a classic deo-sheet choice and come in a variety of ten-pack fruity scents.

3. Carry a sweat towel

In Japan, it’s perfectly acceptable to towel-dry yourself in public and actually encourages a kind of I’m sweaty-you’re sweaty-we’re all sweaty sisterhood (though you would never share a sweat towel as far as we know). Japan is the land of towels, so you could mix it up with a different cloth for work and play, or match the pattern to your umbrella for über-chic tsuyu style. The ¥100 store’s huge range can give you an idea of the overwhelming towel choices that you’re up against. Department, lifestyle and Japanese gift stores are a good way to upgrade your sweat towel status to Mario Testino towel series level.

We like these adorable animal-themed towels from You+More!.

Girl in the window

4. Beware of mold

If we were living Game of Thrones in real life, our house motto for this month would definitely be “mold is coming.” The rainy season equals party time for mold and you’ll spot it appearing uninvited in several areas of your home, ready to stick stubbornly like the Shroud of Turin taunting you with its ridiculous staying power.

Beat it back by being strict with yourself (we know it’s hard, but you’ve got to). Put away the futon every day, run the fan in the bathroom and open the windows whenever possible. Religiously spraying vulnerable areas with kabi kiraa カビキラー (lit.: “mold-killer”) will also help. Don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine or food out of the fridge unless you want your house to smell like a canal.

Kabi kiraa will be your mold-fighting sidekick until death of the fungus do-you-part.


5. Distract yourself with seasonal events

It might be a personal preference, but we do think that Japan looks rather beautiful in the rain. Hike up those rain boots and get snapping arty Instagram photos of umbrellas at the scramble crossing or a rain-soaked businessman biking underneath a bridge. Tokyo’s hydrangeas, which are in full bloom during tsuyu, are also beautifully photogenic. Head to Rikugien gardens, Asukayama or Jindai park among others to see the flowers through June.

Check the weekly Savvy Events Calendar for ways to stay entertained and dry this rainy season.